Homeschool planning is always such an exciting time! Looking, back, looking ahead, and daydreaming of all the wonderful things we hope to do this year! Though it can be stressful to sift through curriculums and placement tests, I am so optimistic for the year ahead! So, grab a coffee and pull up a chair! Let’s plan this upcoming homeschool year together!
I cannot believe I am writing this already. How does time go so quickly?
This year I have a second grader and a Kindergartener.
(We also have a toddler and a baby- so this should be fun! 🙃)
Up until now homeschooling has taken place with a singular student, and while I don’t think adding another school age child into the rotation will be difficult- it does call for some extra planning!
Whether you are new to homeschooling, a veteran homeschooling mama, considering homeschool, or just curious about what homeschool looks like- I’m so glad you are here! So without further ado, here are our plans, strategies, and realizations for the year ahead!
This is the part of school that we have already begun.
Habits in our home are a simple way of addressing the things we do each day, habitually.
Making beds, for example.
Each year before beginning school I take a little off of my full plate, and distribute it to smaller hands. Of course the first year of school that consisted of very simple things like dusting their bedrooms or helping move laundry around.
Now that they are older though, I can assign things like vacuuming the floors, tidying and wiping up the bathroom, or unloading the dishwasher.
They are also helping cook dinner on Thursday and Friday nights. This helps me get some much needed one-on-one time with the older ones while also teaching them valuable life skills! They have already gathered cookbooks from the library and marked pages in magazines for recipes they want to try.
Habits aren’t just for the kids; they are for me too.
I am, unfortunately, not a creature of habit.
I like freedom and tend to resist structure and strict schedules.
Which is why I am always late everywhere I go.
But I know that I have to have my coffee and my Bible study in order to function. Making time for the blog or bread making or projects only happens when I have solid habits to work around. I don’t always do things in the same order, but I have my morning chores, afternoon chores, and daily tasks that I have to get to in order for things to run smoothly.
Now is the time for me to revisit those habits and adjust them to better serve us.
Daily routines are so important, especially during the school year.
The upside to homeschooling is that you get to establish that routine and cater it to your individual family.
We are a family of night owls, so we tend to stay up later which means the kids get going a bit later in the morning. Usually the babies are up by seven and I spend time with them until Isaiah and Iris get up around eight or so. My early mornings and quiet time are the spaces in my day where I get to work (alone) and rest.
Mamas, if you do not have ‘quiet time’ in your home. Start it today!
I do not know how you can keep going, never having a break or a rest. Quiet time is essential. For you and for your children! This time of day should be peaceful for everyone. I don’t let my kids watch TV or anything because that simply is not peaceful for me. (Though that may not be the case for everyone!)
Instead, I assign rooms to each child during this time and give them some space to play with crafts, books, legos, etc.
And of course the small ones take a nap.
Appointments, errands, grocery trips or pickups all require a place in our schedule. Setting aside a day for outings every week or two allows these to work into our days with minimal interruption.
Workbooks and Bible memorization cards can be tucked into your purse or diaper bags for any time when you are stuck waiting around.
Podcasts and Audiobooks also make great travel companions to keep your children engaged even on days out.
Check out the Read Aloud Revival Podcast by Sarah Mackenzie to grow yours and your children’s love of books and homeschool, even on the go!
Choosing curriculum for each year is always an exciting, and a little nerve wrecking, experience. For the full review on the curriculum we used this past year, click here.
As always, curriculum should serve us and our children.
My goals for this year with Isaiah are to develop strong habits and to build godly character.
To help him maintain his love for math and hopefully grow his interest in handwriting.
I also plan to start teaching reading this year. He knows all of his letter sounds and many blends, but we do not start reading lessons until around age 8.
This will be a slow start and if he doesn’t enjoy it, we will stop. My kids love books more than anything and my hope is to grow that love, not dampen it by making reading difficult and stressful. For the reasons why we teach reading later than most public educators, click here!
My goals with Iris are far more based on building character than anything.
I want to establish basic school times and encourage her to simply show up and stay on task.
Other than that, she very much loves being ‘the helper’ and tends to get into trouble when she isn’t busy doing something.
So, my goal for this year is to plant her in the little Mama role and water her there. That’s where she is happiest. While she already loves flipping through her workbooks and imagining herself working in them, I think it is in learning basic skills like cooking and hand sewing that she will really thrive.
Charlotte Mason Enrichment Studies
Our mornings this year will begin with the Charlotte Mason Enrichment Studies.
For those who maybe aren’t familiar, this is essentially a morning basket set up that is already planned for you. It includes Scripture Memorization, Picture Study, Composer study, Nature Journaling, family read alouds, and more.
The way that this works is you order a book (basically a lesson plan) from simply Charlotte Mason, and it tells you all of the Living Books, crafts, and extras you need to purchase in order to accomplish this study each day.
There is so much I love about this, and I am hoping this will be a good fit for our family!
Math (for Isaiah)
I think one of the most crucial things with any math curriculum is simply sticking to it.
Math builds on itself so skipping curriculum year to year can cause gaps in your child’s skill building. We started Math-u-See last year, but we only made it a little over halfway through our Primer workbook. So we will pick up where we left off there and probably finish it around Christmastime. I will simply buy the next workbook when it is time. For a full review on the Math-U-See Curriculum, visit our blog, Homeschool Year End Review.
For Iris I bought a really simple Math Concepts workbook from Rainbow Resource Center.
When Isaiah started Kindergarten, I hadn’t bought a math curriculum yet, and I ended up being so thankful for that.
We started with a simple foundation of math concepts. Which allowed him to grow confident in the basics and it also helped me to see how best to actually teach him math.
My goal is to get my kids to not cringe at the idea of a math class the way I do. (I literally have nightmare still to this day that I have to retake high school or college math.) Math is fundamental, so we are taking time to build confidence and a strong foundation.
All About Reading
I love All About Reading.
So far it has been my favorite curriculum choice. It makes learning to read fun and hands on.
Isaiah is simply moving up to the next stage in AAR, and Iris is beginning at the base level.
With Iris, we will have a new letter of the day every couple of days.
We will use our AAR worksheets on that letter and read the poems or sentences in the books that go with that letter. Then, we will practice writing the letter and try to work activities or foods into the day that involve that letter.
So for the letter “A” we have Apple Nachos for a snack and do some Art or Act out a play.
Isaiah’s next level of AAR has yet to arrive, but I will share a video here for anyone who is interested in knowing a little more about it.
Last year we did Handwriting Without Tears which built a great foundation, but this year I am back to Getty Dubay.
I would highly recommend Handwriting Without Tears for the first year or two, but I love the Getty Dubay workbooks for Isaiah because it is small beautifully written letters.
A lot of kids prefer to write big when they are starting off, but not my Zae. He has always excelled when we used Getty Dubay in the past and tends to get less frustrated with it than other workbooks we have tried.
Iris will begin Handwriting Without Tears at a Pre-K level this year. I expect her to be a lot easier than Isaiah was simply because she enjoys trying to write. I wrote an entire section on Handwriting Without Tears and all the pros, cons, and how it works in my Homeschool Year End Review if you are interested in learning more about it.
At this point we do not use a science curriculum.
Instead we order KiwiCo monthly.
We do nature journals, garden, and spend time outdoors. We read books from the library on bugs, birds, and other interesting things we find. And we have a microscope that we enjoy using as a family to look at cells, pond water samples, etc.
I can’t find the exact microscope we have, but here is a similar version available on Amazon.
Charlotte Mason (History, Geography, and the Bible)
This year we are beginning the Charlotte Mason curriculum for History, Geography, and the Bible.
This is set up similar to the Enrichment Study where you are given a lesson plan and then purchase the Living Books and other materials separately.
I really hope we will love this, but in all honesty it may be the one I am least excited about. We have had some difficulty in finding all the books that go along with the study. And I have also read some not so shiny reviews from other Mamas who have used it in the past.
But I love the concept of weaving History, Geography, and the Bible together for a richer understanding so we will see how this goes!
Other Educational Opportunities
To me the best part of homeschool is that we can do our schoolwork in about an hour or two a day, and then spend the rest of the day learning in other ways. Curriculum is such a small part of education. Homeschooling allows us to explore the world together. Whether that be a park, a farm within the community, or even our own backyard.
One of my goals for this year is to plan monthly field trips.
We plan to visit a dairy, a fall gardening seminar and many other places as the year moves forward.
Our local library, free documentaries, audio books like Adventum (a Bible audiobook for kids), and service projects within the community are some of our greatest educational experiences.
Oh, and did I mention books, books are the absolute core of it all!!
Entertaining the Little Ones
Okay, let’s be real. It is easy to write about school days and make them sound smooth and beautiful, but in reality I have two kids who are school aged and two small ones who get into everything the minute I look away.
Homeschooling is only a small part of my job each day.
Honestly I want to tell you guys that I create sensory bins and have a stash of fun toys only made available during homeschool hours. While that is part of my plan for this year- those only work for so long. Inevitably they get burnt out, and crawl all over and cry.
Usually we end up with graham crackers everywhere, a crayon explosion, and having to nurse a baby while I teach math.
It can feel like a lot sometimes, but it is so worth it in the end.
The truth is, Mama, if you have small littles in your homeschool, they are going to create messes and distractions. It is going to be frustrating from time to time. Some days will go smoothly, others not so much.
But that is okay!
Homeschooling isn’t about perfection. It is about raising our kids to be followers of Jesus, lifelong learners, and adults of impeccable character. They will learn that more through our example than through any amount of peaceful workbook time.
Balancing It All
Mamas, how do you get it all done?
I’m sure someone has asked you that, and most of you probably have a better answer than me. But in short the only real answer I have is,
I don’t get it all done, not by myself anyways.
But my best advice is:
My husband is so hands-on. He loves to help and so do my kids. But their version of ‘helping out’ isn’t always my version of ‘helpful.’ Mamas, sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves and our families is to simply say “Thank you”. My husband doesn’t make the bed perfectly and he always puts the pillows on the couch upside down BUT he makes the bed and puts the pillows on the couch. Ivy always mixes up the silverware when she helps unload the dishwasher, but it is clean and in its drawer. And sometimes good enough has to be good enough. Accept their help, brag on them (or teach them if they need it), thank them, and move on.
This goes back to the talk of habits. Our kids who are with us 24/7 should be doing more than moping around the house or arguing with each other. Assign jobs or chores. Take something off your plate and let them do it for you! Teach them, encourage them, and enjoy your sweet helpers!
Most of us, myself included, cannot have someone come clean our house once a week or handle all the laundry. However Walmart pickup rather than three hours in the grocery store. Paper plates once a week to avoid dishes, a handful of freezer meals or putting some money aside for take out on a busy night These are all practical ways to outsource some of your work.
(This is the hard one.) Mamas, some things we fight so hard to hold on to even when it isn’t serving us well. I can’t tell you what that is in your own life, but if it causes you stress, tears you away from your children, or takes up more space in your mind than it does in your heart- Let it Go. (But don’t throw away your laundry, although that would be my first choice too!)
If you are in the homeschooling community any at all, you probably have heard of Charlotte Mason. Ms. Mason was a teacher. She was a brilliant educator and her methods still train and inspire us to this day.
But she was just that, an educator.
Mamas, your homeschool is not going to look exactly like Charlotte Mason’s.
Because hers wasn’t a homeschool and she wasn’t a Mama.
She was incredible, no doubt, but those were not her children.
She didn’t have to feed them dinner. Or get them to sleep. Or nurse them during her math lesson.
If you are a homeschooling mama or a mama considering homeschool, do not lose sight of the job of ‘Mama’ just because you take on the title of ‘Teacher’.
All Mamas teach.
Even if you don’t realize it.
Even if you feel unqualified.
Your child learned their first words from you. They clung to your hand as they took those first steps. You taught them how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And as my friend pointed out last night, you taught your child where their nose is.
You were their first teacher.
And while there are many wonderful educators in the world, no one will love your child and hope to see them succeed quite like you will.
You can do this.
(Hey Homeschooling Mamas, leave us a comment to let us know if you homeschool and what your best advice is! And Mamas, considering homeschool, what are your biggest concerns in starting this journey? Leave us a comment down below!)
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